Prayer Time

  |      |   


The concept of God is in the minds of people by nature. It is however covered with a lot of confusion. One of the major obstacles to people accepting the concept of a Universal God is that people cannot see Him and thus do not have a rational argument to prove the existence of God. They believe in the direct or observable argument or primary rationalism and not the unseen or inferential argument or secondary rationalism. This is contrary to the fact today.


In its issue no. 134 (1992), the journal, Faith and Reason, published from Manchester College, Oxford (England), brought out an article titled, 'The Relationship between Faith and Reason', by Dr Paul Badham. Dr. Paul Badham is a Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. David's College, Lampeter, in the University of Wales. His paper in this issue had been presented at a Conference of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow in November 1991.


Professor Badham's paper can indeed be called thought- provoking, and as such, is worth reading, but he has made certain points with which I did not agree. He states that philosophical certainty should not be confused with religious certitude. He writes: 'As a philosopher of religion I feel compelled to acknowledge that faith could never be placed on the same level of certainty as scientific knowledge' (p. 6).


I disagree with Professor Badham as after the splitting of the atom in the first quarter of the twentieth century there is no real difference between the two. Now faith and belief can be placed on the same level of certainty as scientific theory.


According to me, this argument was valid when science was at the macro world – when it was considered, ‘only what was observable was the reality’. At that time, the atom was considered to be the smallest unit of the observable material world. So people considered all things to be observable as they considered the atom to be observable. But when the atom was split, it was confirmed that the atom was nothing but a mad dance of energy waves or electrons, which could not be observed. In spite of the change in logic, scientists continued to believe in the concept of the atom, albeit it was unobservable. A new logic therefore came into existence – not only was the direct or observable argument thought to be valid, but inferential arguments or the invisible sources of visible effects were also considered to be valid by scientists.


An example of this is that X-rays are not visible to the naked eye, but their effect can be seen when we observe the X-ray film. Using the valid inferential argument, if you can believe in the unseen X-rays as you can see their effect, why can you not believe in an unseen God, whose meaningful creation – the Universe you see all around you?


Even if God cannot be seen, the effect of His Creation – the Universe – can be seen by us all the time. If we believe in the existence of the Universe – the effect of God’s creation – we have to believe in the Creator of the Universe through the inferential argument which is considered valid by scientists. This provides scientific proof that this division of primary and secondary rationalism is in itself wrong and now that the inferential argument is valid. Therefore, this proves the existence of an unseen God scientifically. I have written about this in my books, God Arises, In Search of God and Religion and Science, by giving credence to the belief in a non-observable God, with the maxim that: “Where there is a design, there is a Designer.” So I say:

“The option one has to take is not between the ‘Universe without God’ and the ‘Universe with God’. The option is actually between the ‘Universe with God’ or ‘No Universe at all’. Since we cannot, for obvious reasons, opt for the latter proposition, we are in fact left with no other option except the former — the ‘Universe with God’.”


Inferential Arguments


Newton (1642-1727) made a special study of the solar system, discovering laws governing the revolution of planets around the sun. His study was, however, confined to astronomical bodies, which can be called the macro¬-world. It is possible in the macro world to weigh and measure things. As a result of the immediate impact of these discoveries, many began to think along the lines that reality was observable, and that proper and valid argument was one based on observation. It was under the influence of this concept that the philosophy generally known as positivism came into being.


"However the discoveries made in the first quarter of the century shook the very foundation of their preliminary theories. These later discoveries revealed that beyond this world of appearance, a whole world was hidden, which does not come under observation. It is only indirectly possible to understand this hidden world and present arguments in its favour. That is, by observing the effects of something, we arrive at an understanding of its existence.


This discovery altered the whole picture. When the access of human knowledge was limited to the macro-¬cosmic world, man was a prey to this misapprehension. But when human knowledge penetrated the micro-world, the academic situation changed on its own.


Now it was revealed that the field of direct argument was extremely limited. New facts which came to the knowledge of man were so abstruse that indirect or inferential argument alone was applicable. For instance, The German scientist, Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen found in 1895 during an experiment that on a glass before him some effects were observable, despite the fact that there was no known link between his experiment and the glass. He concluded that there was an invisible radiation which was traveling at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. Due to the unknown nature of this radiation, Reontgen named it X-rays (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 19/1058).


The twentieth century has seen the discoveries of a number of things like X-rays, which do not come under direct human observation. However due, to their effects having come to the knowledge of man, it was not possible to deny their existence. As a result of modern research, not only were different departments of science revolutionized but the science of logic too saw basic changes.


Now inferential reasoning was also accepted as a valid method of reasoning, for, without this discoveries like X-rays, the scientific structure of the atom, the existence of Dark Matter, etc., could not have been explained.


After the extension of this method of reasoning in modern times, argument on religious faith has become as valid as reasoning on scientific concepts. Exactly the same inferential logic, which was employed to prove the newly discovered concepts of science, was applicable to religious faiths to prove their veracity. Now differences in the criterion of logic have vanished.


Answer to a Question


At the end of his article Professor Badham writes:


And I have to acknowledge that the existence of so much evil and suffering in the world counts against any vision of an all-powerful and loving God (p. 7)


Here I have to say that evil is a relative world. An evil is an evil so long as it cannot be explained. A doctor performs surgery on the patient's body, a judge sentences a criminal to be hanged. All this appears to be injustice, cruelty. But we do not call it so, simply because we have a proper explanation to give for the acts of the judge and the doctor. The same is true of the evil pointed out by the article writer.


The first point is that the evil existing in human society is not spread over the entire universe. Leaving aside the limited human world, the vast universe is perfect, par excellence. It is entirely free of any defect or evil.


Now the question arises as to why there is evil in the human world. To arrive at an understanding of this we shall have to understand the creation plan of the Creator. The creation plan of God provides the only criterion by which to judge the nature of the matter.


The creation plan of God as revealed to His Prophet is that this world is a testing ground, where man's virtue is placed on trial. It is in accordance with the records of this trial period that man's eternal fate will be decreed. It is for the purpose of this test that he has been granted freedom. In the absence of freedom, the question of life being a test would not arise.


The present evil is, in fact, a concomitant of this freedom. God desires to select those individuals who, in spite of being granted freedom, lead a disciplined and principled life. For individuals to prove their worth an atmosphere of freedom must be provided. Undoubtedly, due to such an atmosphere, some people will surely misuse this freedom and perpetrate injustice. But this is the inevitable price to be paid for such a creation plan to be brought to completion. No better creation plan can be envisaged for this world.


The present world appears meaningless when seen independently, that is, without joining the Hereafter with it. But when we take this world and the Hereafter together, the entire matter takes a new turn. Now this world becomes extremely meaningful and extremely valuable.



© 2015 - 2016 All rights reserved Islam Message